Summer 2024: June 9 – 13

Manuscript Workshops

In our manuscript workshops, capped at 10, you will distribute manuscripts in advance, prepare comments for your colleague’s submissions, and gather each morning to share insights and gain inspiration on the best path to advance your writing. You’ll receive critical feedback from peers and your faculty mentor and learn what other writers are working on as well. 

Write-Now Workshops

Our write-now workshops, capped at 12, allow you to immerse yourself in the craft of writing without the pressure of preparing or reading manuscripts. Through daily reading, writing exercises, and prompts, you’ll write both in class and during the afternoon to generate new work over the course of each day, dedicating as much time as possible to your own new writing.


In our tutorial (a new offering this year!), you will submit work in advance to your faculty mentor, and then meet one-on-one three times during the week in 30-minute sessions. You will get an individualized reading list and extensive writing prompts to help you continue your work throughout the week. Tutorials are not workshops and meet during times that are coordinated between each participant and faculty mentor. Tutorial participants may attend all other TMWW activities, such as craft seminars, readings, and other events.

2024 Available Workshops

Amanda Cockrell

Amanda Cockrell

Sense of Place and Time: Fiction and the Craft of World-Building, all levels

It’s tricky to create a fully realized world, whether it’s a fantastical land, an ancient era, or the endless variations of our modern one, but a sense of place is the heart of a good story. This write-now workshop will focus on developing your fictional setting as a way to enrich your story and anchor your reader in its landscape. We’ll use prompts suggested by the nature of each participant’s work to learn the power of the perfect detail and how each can advance the plot and develop character at the same time. You’ll either research your setting or design it from scratch, and then practice painting that world on each page. You can bring a work in progress or start something entirely new, and all levels of experience are welcome. You’ll write daily and respond to each other’s work.

Amanda Cockrell is the author of numerous historical novels, among them Coyote Weather (April 2023), set during the years of the Vietnam War, and six novels of the pre-Columbian Southwest. Writing as Damion Hunter, she is the author of novels set in ancient Rome, including Shadow of the Eagle, which Simon Scarrow called “a brilliantly realised world.” During her tenure as founding director of the graduate program in children’s and adolescent literature at Hollins, she taught literature and creative writing and wrote the young adult novel What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay. She has been the recipient of an NEA literature grant and a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and lives in Roanoke.

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Fred Leebron

Fiction Tutorial

Fred will meet with each student one-on-one three times over the course of the week, in 30-minute sessions. You’ll get abundant prompts and guidance for you to continue the work during the day throughout the week. In addition, Fred will lead a three-hour field trip in Roanoke on Wednesday afternoon for all tutorial students. All levels and forms welcome, including short story and the novel, and any genre writing. Twenty pages (12 pt., double spaced).

NOTE: Tutorials are not workshops, they are one-on-one sessions with your faculty mentor. Tutorial participants may attend all other activities, such as craft seminars, readings, and other events.

Fred Leebron has published three novels, a novella, and numerous short stories, winning both an O. Henry Award and a Pushcart Prize. He has founded and directed writing programs in Europe, Latin America, and the United States, and has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate level for nearly 30 years. His second novel, Six Figures, was made into a feature length, award-winning film in Canada, and he has worked on a number of film and television projects. He is coauthor of a Harcourt Brace textbook on fiction writing and coeditor of the Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Fiction. A new collection of short fiction, The News Said It Was, was published in 2022.

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Craft Seminars

Craft seminars are held in the afternoons and are open to everyone. Each one focuses on a different element of creative writing and offers a chance to hear information outside your workshop topic.

Amanda Cockrell – Writing a Believable Villain
Your villain isn’t a bad guy for the sake of being bad. He’s a bad guy because he wants something and figures his badness, whatever it is, will get it for him. He needs motivation beyond just intrinsic awfulness. He needs a backstory. Here’s how to construct it.

Fred Leebron – Writing Prompts: When to Use Them and How to Create Them
This seminar focuses on why writing prompts are so valuable to writers and will provide strategies for using and for developing prompts specific to your own writing challenges.

Rebecca Lindenberg – How To Get Out of an Ocean
In this craft talk, we’ll look at various examples of how poets, short story writers and essayists bring their work to a meaningful close – one of the more challenging aspects of well-written work. By considering different kinds of endings and their effect on readers, we’ll be able to think more clearly about the choices available to us as writers at the end of our own pieces.

Dan Mueller – Choice
We’ll examine how a narrator/persona/character’s initial choice operates in a flash fiction, flash essay, and poem as a hook and catalyst for all the choices that come after it.  

Daniel Mueller

Dan Mueller

Fiction Writers’ Retreat, all levels

In this write-noIn this write-now workshop, we will focus predominantly on fiction and embody the practice of writing daily. During meeting times we’ll discuss matters of craft derived from reading a variety of pieces of contemporary fiction; read aloud to one another from our own newly written work and respond to it as a community of artists intent on helping one another find a larger audience; write from prompts; approach publishing as a part of the creative process; and address any and all concerns related to the writing life from writer’s block to sources of inspiration to submission strategies. While conventional creative writing workshops privilege the critique, the quality of them hinging upon the amount of time and thought outside of meeting times writers put into reading and responding to each other’s manuscripts, in ours we’ll honor the act of writing by putting the time, space, and camaraderie to use in the drafting of new work. For your first prompt, write a scene of no more than 1,000 words in which a character does something that seems like a good idea at the time. The operative word is “seems.” Please bring what you’ve written to our first meeting. This workshop is open to writers of all skill levels and degrees of experience.

Dan Mueller is the author of three collections of short fiction: Anything You Recognize, (Outpost 19 Books 2023), Nights I Dreamed of Hubert Humphrey (Outpost 19 Books 2013), winner of a Santa Fe Writers’ Project Book Award, and How Animals Mate (Overlook Press 1999), winner of the Sewanee Fiction Prize. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Pithead Chapel, The Missouri Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, Gargoyle, Story Quarterly, CutBank, Joyland, Booth Journal, Solstice, Free State Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Manzano Mountain Review, The Writing Disorder, Another Chicago Magazine, Mississippi Review, Story, Playboy, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of New Mexico and low-residency M.F.A. program at Queens University of Charlotte.

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Rebecca Lindenberg

Radical Presence: Poetry As an Art of Attention, all levels

This write now workshop is designed to be generative, exploratory, and hopefully, empowering. We’ll do all sorts of writing activities ranging from automatic or “free” writing to carefully crafted aphorism, writing en pleine aire (inspired by the Impressionist painters) to creating “photo negatives” of published work (substituting each word with a seeming opposite to see what emerges). We’ll engage in poetic collaborations with each other, and with poets whose work we’ll read – a diverse array of North American and international writers across the ages, an inclusive host of voices bringing different subject matter, artistic strategy, and aesthetic style to our conversation. We’ll free ourselves from the pressure to “improve upon the blank page,” as Nicanor Parra has said, and let ourselves access some of our most primal lyric impulses, deep images and symbols, sensate speaking selves, so we’ll never again wonder (when we find it challenging to write), “What do I do now?” We’ll workshop, but in some new and nontraditional ways designed to teach us to be as spontaneous as readers as we can be as writers, responding not with our opinions but with our intuitions. Consider this an opportunity for serious whimsy, for meaningful play, and for personal and artistic discovery.

Rebecca Lindenberg is the author of two poetry collections: Love, an Index (McSweeney’s) and The Logan Notebooks (Mountain West Poetry Series), winner of the 2015 Utah Book Award. She’s the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, an Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Fellowship, an NEA literature grant, a seven-month fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and other awards. Her work appears most recently in Tin House, American Poetry Review, The Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, and in the Best American Poetry 2019 anthology, ed. Major Jackson. She is a member of the full-time poetry faculty at the University of Cincinnati, where she is also director of creative writing and the poetry editor of the Cincinnati Review.

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Dorothy Hassan

Starting Your Writing Journey, multigenre, novice [no longer available]

“I want to write my story, but I don’t know where to start.” “I’ve written a story, but how do I know if I did it right?”  If these dilemmas describe your predicament, this is the workshop for you. Whether you want to write fiction or nonfiction, learn some of the major building blocks of the craft, including character and setting development, sensory detail, and organization. Move your story from mind to paper without blocking your creative flow with stop-start hesitations or crippling early edits. In-class writing exercises will set participants on their way to producing pieces that may stand alone or become part of a larger work. In addition, learning to critique the work of others will teach you to effectively critique your own; guidance will be provided in daily review sessions of the previous day’s work.

Dorothy Hassan, writing as D. A. Spruzen, earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte and teaches creative writing in Northern Virginia. Publications include a historical novel, The Blitz Business, and a poetry collection, Long in the Tooth. In addition, her poems and short stories have appeared in many online and print publications.

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Barbara Jones

The Middle Place, A Workshop for Book-length Works in Progress, multi-genre, all levels

Please prepare 15-20 pages from a longer work in progress; this could be a story collection, novel, memoir, or collection of essays. We’ll read the samples from each work in advance, then spend workshop time considering which kinds of inspiration and which sorts of technical assistance might benefit each writing project now; that is, we’ll investigate how to nourish and sustain each of these projects to completion. And, overall, we’ll share the trials and joys of being in the sometimes vast-seeming middle of a book-length piece as well as the notable benefits of reaching the end.

Barbara Jones is a literary agent with Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, a leading, independent New York literary agency representing a distinguished list of bestselling and award-winning authors. Jones represents authors behind a range of fiction and nonfiction, from highly literary works to much more commercial fare, with an emphasis across all forms on voices from previously underrepresented communities and on durable talents and stories. Previously, she spent several decades as an editor, first in magazines (Grand StreetHarper’sVogueReal Simple) and then in books (as editorial director at Hyperion Books and, most recently, as executive editor at Henry Holt). She has also led writing workshops for 30 years, at Yale University, New York University, Queens University of Charlotte, and elsewhere.

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Kristin Dombek

Kristin Dombek

Write Now: A Creative Nonfiction Workshop, all levels

This write-now workshop invites you to bring a small archive of evidence to the mountain: a keepsake, a letter, some photographs, your interview notes/transcripts, an important journal, screenshots, art objects (or transportable representations), a song, a book, audio recordings, or any other kind of artifacts you want to attend to. We’ll use what you bring as sources and prompts for our personal narratives. After drafting moments, lines and images, scenes, portraits, anecdotes, and flashes of memory, we’ll explore how we might combine these fragments into more-finished work. Through readings and discussion, we’ll investigate elements of creative nonfiction such as dual-time frames, the narrative impulse versus reflection, character development, scenes, voice, rhythm, and effective prose. But the main focus of the workshop will be on your writing process, the material you generate, and sharing that material with a sympathetic audience. Class time will be dedicated to sharing work, discussing the art and craft of writing, and perhaps working on an exercise or two. Outside of class, you’ll be asked to write in response to prompts or wherever the muse takes you. In writing our lives, Annie Dillard says that we must “fashion a text.” The goal at the end of our week is to develop new material and new resources for fashioning your personal essays, stories, and/or memoirs. Open to all levels.he end of our week is to develop new material and new resources for fashioning your personal essays, stories, and/or memoirs. Open to all levels.

Kristin Dombek’s essays can be found in Best American Essays and magazines such as n+1Vice, the New York Times MagazineHarper’s, the London Review of Books, the Paris Review, and the Financial Times. She is the author of The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism (FSG, 2016), and has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award in Nonfiction, a Calderwood Journalism Fellowship, a n+1 Foundation fellowship, and fellowships from MacDowell and Yaddo. She’s taught the craft of essay, memoir, journalism, and rhetoric in the MFA programs at Queens College/CUNY and Queens University of Charlotte, in the Princeton Writing Program, and in workshops and master classes all over the place.

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Candice Ransom

Writing Picture Books from Your Inside-Place and Easy Readers from Joy, all levels [no longer available]

Have you always wanted to write a picture book? Picture books remain popular and there’s no better time to start. This week, you will learn the elements of a picture book by studying some of the greats. Then, rather than addressing what “the market” thinks children need or current trends, you’ll approach your story from the inside-place. You’ll go deep inside yourself—your childhood—to write the brave true picture book whose story only you can tell.

Most of our week will center on picture books, but on our last day we’ll delve into easy readers, short books written for the newly independent reader. Structured differently from picture books, these stories usually examine experiences that most children have had (losing a tooth, getting a pet). We’ll have craft lectures in the mornings, augmented with slides and loads of books to study. Afternoons you’ll be free to work.

Come to the campus where Margaret Wise Brown was once a student. Quite possibly, some of her Goodnight Moon magic will wear off on you.

Candice Ransom is the author of 180 books for children and young adults, including 22 picture books and 25 easy readers. The Big Green Pocketbook, still in print after more than 30 years, is considered a picture book classic. Ransom’s books have earned many honors: Texas Bluebonnet nominee, William Allen White nominee, Chicago Public Library Best of the Best, IRA Teacher’s Choice, IRA Children’s Choice, Smithsonian Notable Book, New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Books, Junior Library Guild Selection, Book of the Month Club Selection, New York Public Library Best 100 Books, and School Library Journal Best Book of 2023. Forty-nine of her books have been translated into 12 languages. Ransom earned an M.A. in children’s literature from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College.  Currently, she teaches at Hollins University’s graduate programs in children’s literature

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Rachel Beanland

Writing the Novel, all levels

In her essay, “What is a novel?” Jane Smiley defines a novel as a (1) lengthy, (2) written, (3) prose, (4) narrative with a (5) protagonist. “Everything that the novel is and does, every effect that the novel has had on, first, Western culture, and subsequently, world culture, grows out of these five small facts that apply to every novel,” she writes. In this workshop, we will make much of those five small facts, and in the process, analyze your novel excerpt of no more than 20 pages (12 pt., double spaced). Expect to discuss your novel’s structure, plot, characterization, setting, time management, and much, much more. This workshop is for any writer who is currently at work on a novel, whether you’ve written a few chapters or an entire draft. We’ll help you push the work as far as it can go and devote some time to discussing the submission and publication process.

Rachel Beanland is the author of The House Is on Fire, which was published by Simon & Schuster in April 2023 and named an Indie Next pick by the American Booksellers Association, a ‘GMA Buzz Pick’ by Good Morning America, and one of the Best Books of 2023 (thus far) by The New Yorker. Her first novel, Florence Adler Swims Forever, was published in 2020 and was named a Barnes & Noble Book Club pick, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and one of the best books of 2020 by USA Today. The novel also received the National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction. Beanland earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University and lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is the 2023-24 Writer-in-Residence at the University of Richmond.

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Laura Ruby

Writing Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction, all levels [no longer available]

Want to write fiction for teens and kids but don’t know where to start? In this generative workshop, we’ll discuss what makes YA, YA, and what makes middle-grade, middle-grade, and how to distinguish them both from fiction for adults. We’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of point-of-view, write from prompts, and share the results in a supportive environment. We’ll also discuss how to craft memorable characters, how character shapes plot, and touch on other vital aspects of craft such as structure, setting/world building, and pacing. And we’ll cover other topics of interest to any writer working in any genre or category: Where to begin. How to draft. How to revise. This workshop is open to writers of all skill levels and degrees of experience. 

A two-time National Book Award Finalist, Edgar® Award Nominee, and Carnegie Medal Nominee, Laura Ruby writes fiction and poetry for adults, teens, and children. She is the author of 12 books, including Printz Medal-winning novel Bone Gap, as well as Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, and the YORK trilogy. Her short fiction has appeared in The Florida Review, The Beloit Fiction Journal, and Nimrod International, among others, and her poetry has appeared in The Dallas Review, Diode, Sugar House Review, and Poetry South. She has an M.F.A. in poetry from Queens University of Charlotte and is on the faculty of Hamline University’s M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. She makes her home in the Chicago area. Find her at www.lauraruby.com

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